The Wolves (Rugby) UCL will test the effectiveness of energy chewing gums – © All rights reserved
They chew, they chew. Athletes have their habits. Energizing chewing gums are now part of the life of many pro footballers. Kylian Mbappé, Neymar, PSG, AS Monaco or the team of France are fans. The red devils are not left behind. For some, it promotes concentration and for others, it would give an instant boost. They are much more effective than energy drinks.
This is the sales argument of the producers. The caffeine contained in these gums would pass much faster in the blood because it is absorbed by the oral mucosa. After 5 minutes, the boost would already be there. Count 4 to 6 times longer for drinks that give wings. The caffeine then enters the body through the intestines. It is much slower.
The US military is at the origin of this invention. She wanted to find an effective way to wake up her troops in all circumstances. Easy to transport, the gums have more of an asset.
We put this marketing promise to the test. Dr. Marc Francaux from UCL's motor science faculty will conduct an experiment on the Wolves, the university rugby team. This punctual test has no scientific value.
12 rugby players will achieve 6x30m in sprint with 20 seconds of recovery between each rehearsal. 8 minutes before the test, the players receive a chewing gum. Part of the group actually absorbs 200 mg of caffeine, the equivalent of 3 good cups of coffee. The other is given a placebo.
Three days later, players repeat the same test by changing products. Dr. Francaux actually reproduces an experiment conducted by researchers from the University of Sheffield Hallam in England. This study demonstrated that a low dose of caffeine (200 mg) improved performance. "It is clear that those who take caffeine take less time. They ran faster to cover their 30m. It should be noted that the effect is not very important. On the order of a tenth of a second", says Marc Francaux.
However, the results of our test do not correspond to those of the English experience. "The points overlap and therefore, there is absolutely no effect of caffeine compared to standard chewing gum", the UCL Professor is astonished.After checking the general chemistry laboratory of Agro-Bio Tech Gembloux (ULiège), chewing gums contain the correct dose of caffeine.How can explain this difference?
The answer probably comes from the methodology. The rugbymen evolved outside and the weather conditions were not identical during the two days: "We saw that the second day it was raining a little and probably that the ground was a little more slippery, the subjects have systematically ran less quickly. Which prevented us from seeing the potential effect of caffeine".
Taste more disgusting
The Wolves did not feel the announced boost effect. "I did not feel any difference. Apart from the more bitter, more disgusting taste", says a rugby player.I have the impression that I would have had more boost with coffee than with chewing gum", chained another.
It will be recalled that caffeine is not part of the list of doping products of the AMA (World Anti-Doping Agency). This would be to ban a cup of coffee before a competition. It would not make much sense. Beyond a certain dose, the effect becomes even counterproductive. Too much caffeine can speed up the heart rate. Which in endurance sports can become harmful. These chewing gums are also not recommended for children and pregnant women. Think about it before ruminating like your idols.